Our coverage plans for today:
In national news ...
• Warren Richey in Washington has obtained the court audio recording of the panel of federal judges – including Sonia Sotomayor – hearing a controversial reverse-discrimination case filed by white firefighters. The panel issued a summary decision denying the appeal. The exchanges in court give some glimpse of Judge Sotomayor's concerns in the case, which have drawn much speculation.
• Gail Chaddock is following the progress of Obama's healthcare plan on Capitol Hill. What will it achieve and how much will it cost or save?
•In the second daily blog from his Recession Road Trip, Bill Glauber finds tough people for tough times in an upstate New York town.
• The job loss numbers today mark some improvement. Laurent Belsie reports.
• Howard LaFranchi assesses how far Obama can get with the Muslim world with the tone and demeanor of his speech Thursday without some of the substantive policy changes it is looking for.
• Liam Stack and Caryle Murphy are in the region collecting views from ordinary people and experts alike. Obama's targeted audience will be the world's estimated 1.4 billion Muslims. But his toughest crowd will be in the Middle East, where US foreign policies are most disliked.
• Kristen Chick on our World desk is putting together a summary of how the Arabic-language media is playing the Obama visit.
• Caryle Murphy in Cairo is also looking at two competing voices vying for Muslim attention – Osama vs Obama. Whose message is resonating?
• Ilene Prusher in Jerusalem writes on why Obama is bypassing Israel on this trip, and how many Israelis think it signals a broader shift in US priorities in the region – and a consequent change in US-Israeli relations (a departure not just from the Bush administration, but Clinton's too).
Elsewhere in the world ...
• Like a subplot in a great drama, two American journalists go on trial in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Thursday even as North Korea prepares for more tests of its long-range missile and possibly another nuclear test as well. Don Kirk looks at the degree to which Laura Ling and Euna Lee have unwittingly become pawns in a huge bargaining game.
• Voters speaking 23 languages throughout 27 countries have diverse choices in the forthcoming EU elections June 4 through 7. But one party, Libertas, is arguing that it can appeal across borders and language divides. Michael Seaver in Ireland reports.